"From the act of observation in which attention is awakened, arises the art of teaching."
Vanda Scaravelli

The Mark in Yoga with Mark

Mark Allcock My name is Mark Allcock and I worked in the IT industry for 24 years. In the early 90's I began working for myself as an IT contractor. For the first few years I worked away from home, then in 1994 I started working locally which gave me the opportunity to take up the martial art Aikido. One of my main aikido teachers, Tony Sargeant Sensei, also taught tai chi and yoga and he encouraged me to look at yoga to help my aikido practice.

For the first few years I went to Iyengar Yoga classes but did no self practice. At the start of the new millennium I began Ashtanga Yoga and this encouraged me to do a self practice each day.

My wife, Anne, and I attended the 2003 BWY Congress and Anne, who is also a yoga teacher, suggested that I attend a workshop with the Brighton based teacher Peter Blackaby. I was not so keen as I thought that another workshop that was on at the same time would be of more benefit. How wrong I was! The room was packed and there was no room for Pete to put his mat down. So he put his mat on a large wooden desk that was in the room. His movement up and down onto the desk as he demonstrated and then went around the room was amazing and I thought "That's what I want from my yoga".

The following year I travelled to Brighton each month to study asana with Peter Blackaby in the morning and philosophy with Peter Connolly in the afternoon. It was around this time that I became aware of the work of Vanda Scaravelli and teachers such as Sophy Hoare and John Stirk who had worked with Vanda.

Mark Allcock Early in 2004 Anne encouraged me to go with her to see an American yoga teacher called Diane Long. Diane lives in Italy and studied with Vanda longer than any other student (over 23 years). Meeting Diane was one of those pivotal moments that transforms your life.

Diane made me question the whole of my practice. I realised that I needed to start again with a clean sheet and remove my preconceived ideas. Now I regularly study with Diane when she is here in the UK and since 2005 Anne and I visit Italy each year to study with her. Recently this has been for us to train individually with Diane or in a very small group. For me this is the best way to learn and traditionally was the way yoga was taught in India. It allows for a more personalised learning experience and for this reason I restrict the size of my own classes. Diane encouraged me to teach yoga and I have completed a formal teaching qualification with The British Wheel of Yoga.

I am still practising aikido and am now a 2nd Dan (black belt). In 2010 I started a new aikido club, Wellsprings Aikido, which trains in Moreton, Furzebrook and Poole. I have participated in sports all my life including playing badminton for over 35 years at league level; playing football (mostly five-a-side) for 25 years at league level ; running (I was a member of Poole Athletics Club for a number of years and ran several marathons with a PB of 2 hours 52 mins) and practising tai chi. I am particularly interested in how yoga can improve our everyday lives and our performance in all sporting activities and I am sure that whatever sporting activity you do that yoga can be of benefit to you.

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